Published: Tue, July 31, 2018
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Zimbabweans begin voting in first election since Mugabe's removal

Zimbabweans begin voting in first election since Mugabe's removal

On Sunday, Mr Mugabe, who first came to power after independence in 1980, said he would not vote for his successor.

He was coy about endorsing a candidate ahead of the election in which the former deputy that he fired, President Emmerson Mnangagawa, faces a 40-year-old lawyer and pastor, Nelson Chamisa.

Zimbabwe's generals shocked the world previous year when they seized control and ushered Mnangagwa into power after Mugabe allegedly groomed his wife to succeed him. After voting, he said the country is experiencing democracy never witnessed before.

"In any democratic space and country, people have the freedom to express their views, negative or positive".

Observers said Mr Mugabe's dreams were no longer relevant to Zimbabweans and he was overrating his political influence.

A presidential runoff will be held on September 8 if a candidate does not secure more than 50 percent of the votes.

The southern Africa nation hopes that a credible vote on Monday could get those sanctions lifted and bring badly needed investment for a collapsed economy.

Elections during Mr Mugabe's authoritarian rule were marred by fraud and violence, and this year's campaign has been dominated by accusations that the vote will be rigged.

He had earlier told a cheering crowd as he cast his vote: "Victory is certain, the people have spoken", reported Reuters news agency. "The president is here!" We have struggled for too long,"Bernard Mbadzo, 44, said as he queued in the capital of Harare while helicopters hovered overhead".

Voter turnout in Monday's polls was high, according to the election commission, which is expected to release a figure later in the day.

"He still thinks his G40 outfit still enjoys support enough to cause the defeat of Zanu-PF by aligning with MDC Alliance and Chamisa".

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Chigumba warned journalists and election agents against interviewing voters on their way to and out of the polling stations, adding that the actions could lead to the withdrawal of accreditation.

Voting was due to finish at 1700 GMT.

"I can't vote for ZANU-PF. what is left?"

Former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe (C) his daughter Bona (C) and wife Grace cast their votes at a polling station at a primary school in the Highfield district of Harare during the country's general elections on July 30, 2018. "I can't vote for Zanu-PF".

The elections have been opened up to global observers, though the opposition has voiced concerns that the voter roll has irregularities and claimed that the army has been deployed to rural areas in an attempt to intimidate people to vote for the ruling ZANU-PF.

The attack killed two people and injured 49. Tsvangirai pulled out of the second round vote in an effort to end the bloodshed.

Some observers welcomed Zimbabwe's freer political environment but cited worries about bias in state media, a lack of transparency in ballot printing and reports of intimidation by pro-government traditional leaders who are supposed to stay neutral. I have to see a better Zimbabwe for my kids.

"However the public's faith in the secrecy of the ballot is essential for the credibility of the process".

After a mostly peaceful contest, the success of the election will be determined by whether rival parties accept the result, with the main opposition already having complained the odds are stacked against it.

Mnangagwa has made a big effort to win over foreign opinion; hosting Western ambassadors, courting investors and patching up relations with white commercial farmers who were violently evicted from their farms under Mugabe.

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